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Trail Across the Dales

Malham Cove | © 2014 Bryan J. Kwa

Hike #5 and I figured it was time to try something ambitious: One, drag the other half along for her virgin hike & make her fall in love with the great outdoors. Two, get back in time for the first day of school and survive it… [SUCCESS].

This time round, I chose to tackle Yorkshire Dales, one of fifteen national parks in Britain located approximately 400km north of central London and spanning across the counties of Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

We woke during the wee hours of a chilly Saturday morning and caught the earliest train from King’s Cross Station. After approximately 4 hours of travel including a transfer at Leeds followed by Shipley, we came to our first proper pit-stop at the charming market town of Skipton, also known as “The Gateway to the Dales”.

Extremely rustic and homely, the streets and alleys were what you’d imagine out of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, just in a modern-day setting. I’d say it might even come close to a legendary German Christmas market but then again I’m biased! Anyway, I had the best hot chocolate in the world at Cafe 76, and well, let’s just leave that taste in our mouths for a moment.

We got so comfortable from being all warm and toasty in Cafe 76 that I literally fell asleep for a good half hour seated upright, giving a group of elderly hikers a good laugh. We then grabbed the one and only bus that Saturday afternoon, northbound towards the tiny parish of Malham (Population approx. 150), visited Malham Cove (where they filmed Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows) and stayed the night at the local Youth Hostel Association.

Day two was the tough part. We had to set-off at 6.30am in the morning and hike approximately 11km within 3 hours in order to catch the bus to our next pit-stop. Thereafter, we had to hike another 15km to our hostel before nightfall. If we missed that one and only bus, well let’s say we’d be looking at spending the night with our wooly friends.

Nevertheless, our excellent time management granted us time in between to visit Gordale Scar – a magnificent ravine created by 100m-high limestone walls, Aysgarth Falls – where they filmed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,  and visit Kilnsey Fly Fishery for a delectable serving of open-smoked trout lathered with dill-mayonnaise… and of course hot chocolate!

Being pros at time-management, we arrived at YHA Grinton Lodge well before dusk. We were fortunate enough to be given a suite with (at no extra cost) a ridiculously spacious bathroom above us, but we still settled for a budget dinner of self-prepared noodles.

Fun fact: Grinton Lodge is a Grade II listed building in England and was formerly a hunting lodge built way back in 1817 for James Fenton of Doncaster.

Day 3 was a little less eventful, but the weather was horrid. We woke up to temperatures below 10 degrees celsius and 50km/h winds. Had to hike in the weather to the next bus-stop but it was still a relief I’d be making it back in time for my first day of school! We spent a couple of hours in Darlington before grabbing the train back to London, even contemplated watching a movie at the local cinema. Pity the timings didn’t suit our schedule!

Start: Skipton
End: Darlington
Total Distance covered: 110km
Hiked Distance: 
30km

(Click to enlarge)

Day #1 Overview:
Woke up at 5.30am to catch the 7.03am train from London King’s Cross Station to Skipton, had to switch to a bus at Leeds and another train at Shipley en route. Spent a couple of hours at Skipton, relaxed at Cafe 76 while waiting for the (only and last) 4.05pm  bus to Malham. Visited Malham cove and stayed the night at YHA Malham.

Day #2 Overview:
Began our hike pre-dawn in direction of Gordale Scar, then towards Kilnsey where we visited a trout farm and caught the bus to Aysgarth Falls. Hiked to Grinton Lodge and stayed the night.

Day #3 Overview:
Hiked in dreadful weather to a bus stop not far from Grinton Lodge, took the bus to Richmond where we changed service to Darlington. Caught an evening train back to Central London.

Memorable Moments:
– Cafe 76’s hot chocolate
– Malham Cove
– Gordale Scar
– Aysgarth Falls
– Grinton Lodge
– Each others’ company ❤

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